Skip to comments.San Diego's Would-Be Surfer Mayor Is Back
Posted on 07/05/2005 12:59:47 PM PDT by GPBurdell
By SETH HETTENA, Associated Press Writer 45 minutes ago
Donna Frye is accustomed to not being taken seriously. As a surf-shop owner inspired to act by the ocean pollution sickening her surfer husband and friends, Frye was written off when she ran for a City Council seat four years ago but she won.
Frye, who says she has been derided as a "surfer chick," was dismissed again last year when she waged a write-in campaign for mayor. Incumbent Dick Murphy barely defeated her, and then only after a court battle.
Now that Murphy is resigning amid a pension fund scandal and federal investigations of City Hall, Frye is back challenging the status quo.
This time, she appears to be the one to beat.
As the lone Democrat among the leading candidates in the July 26 special election for mayor, Frye is guaranteed 30 to 40 percent of the vote, enough to advance to an expected Nov. 8 runoff against the other top vote-getter, said pollster John Nienstedt of Competitive Edge Research.
Her Republican challengers include a former police chief, a Harley-Davidson dealer, a bankruptcy attorney and the founder of a hospital staffing company.
With her husky voice and long blond hair framing her weathered face, Frye is a splash of color in a gray political landscape that has been dominated by middle-aged, white, Republican men.
Frye promises to reform City Hall from within by ending the culture of back room deals that produced scandals that have tarnished the city's image and threatened it with bankruptcy.
Two of her council colleagues are on trial this summer in federal court on charges for accepting illegal campaign contributions from a Las Vegas strip club owner.
In addition, county and federal prosecutors are investigating San Diego's pension fund, which has a $1.37 billion deficit. Six current and former pension board members have been indicted for alleged conflict-of-interest violations, accused of enriching themselves with their votes.
Frye's supporters love her straight-talking style.
"Where you don't have honest dialogue, you don't have reality and you don't have any damn fun," she said.
"She's one of the people," Bill Muller, a 70-year-old retired chef, said as he set off to canvas neighborhoods for Frye on a recent morning. "She's not afraid to say what she means."
Frye, 53, got a huge laugh from a group of women supporters when she revealed that she had her first hot flash in the middle of a council meeting. And she gushes about her husband, surfing legend Skip Frye, and his "great hinder" or rear end.
Frye also puts her bifocals on and does her homework. One night, she read reports on city finances until 2 a.m. and the next morning announced her proposal to place the city's pension fund into receivership and form a committee to explore bankruptcy.
"I see her as someone who's going to transform San Diego," said Howard Wayne, a former state assemblyman whose meeting with Frye a decade ago eventually led to the first state law in the nation requiring statewide monitoring of beaches.
"Donna, by being an honest person, by having the faith of the public, is in the best position to solve the problems and save San Diego," he said.
Her grassroots appeal proved so strong that she nearly ousted the incumbent mayor in November with a write-in campaign launched less than five weeks before the election.
She appeared to have a nearly 3,500-vote edge out of 460,000 votes cast. But a judge disqualified more than 5,000 ballots on which voters had written Frye's name but failed to darken the adjoining write-in bubble, tipping the election to Murphy.
Frye has refined her campaigning since the 1990s, when she founded Surfers Tired of Pollution and displayed U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray's head in effigy in a toilet in her surf shop because she felt he was attempting to weaken the Clean Water Act.
"It's not just about open government," Frye said. "It's about open hearts and it's about open minds. It's about caring about one another and treating each other with courtesy and respect."
No, no, there's no liberal bias...
Mike Shelby for mayor!
san diego has some of the s-t-r-a-n-g-e-s-t politics in the united states!
Check out her website: http://www.sandiego.gov/citycouncil/cd6/
Shes a union owned nut from Ocean Beach. The stoner capital of San Diego.
Having left San Diego a few years ago... what is Frye's idea about stopping Tijuana from dumping their untreated waste into the Tijuana river and the ocean?
Since the ocean water pollution was the driving power to get her into politics, I have to assume she's done something to correct the worst polluter in the area - Tijuana.
The pension fund of San Diego is actually very well managed from an investment perspective. The guy who manages it is very well respected. The problem is, all he can control is the return he gets on the investments. The politicians have been increasing the benefits for city workers like crazy, and then not funding the plan enough. Somehow I doubt this liberal chick is going to solve the problem of promising government workers too much.
Is this supposed to be a news article? Reads just like a press released from the Fry campaign.
San Diego is actually a well run city, of course, if this "crusader" gets in, things will go downhill in a rapid manner.
This woman has to be stopped, no matter what the cost, no matter what tactic is employed, because the future of your city is at stake.
Wasn't she Billy Jack's girlfriend?
Frye is Howard Dean with long hair.
Heck, sounds like most of the male stoner population.
She sounds stoned in every interview I've heard. Thank God I no longer live in the city of San Diego.
It could be worse; she could be from Hillcrest.
If I could vote in that city he'd have my vote. BTW...it's Myke with a Y.
Don't like her, don't vote for her, but at least its up to the people.
"San Diego is actually a well run city,..."
Right. You been hangin out in OB?
Yea i live in san diego and voted for murphy the last time around not because i liked the guy i actually like ron roberts but i was afraid i would split the vote and that that crazy loon Donna Frye would win, so i swapped at the last minute. I hope that Republicans rally behind New York Myke and dont split the vote letting Frye sneak in again, normally democrats dont have a prayer of winning a mayoral race in this city but democrats see blood. in the water and are going all guns blazing
I hate to say it but I've seen some polls and it looks like Frye is going to win. There is a silver lining to that cloud, though...that being the strong mayor issue is failing.
BTW...as bad as she is I'd trade Frye for El Cajon's mayor Mark Lewis anyday. "Captain Trash" the pro-recycling freak on community access cable is the biggest joke of a mayor there ever was. But the fools in this city reelected him. Go figure.
I just left San Diego. How this city, which is in the toilet itself, could even THINK of electing this person who was part of the cabal that tore San Diego down is absolutely beyond me.